Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Rand Paul Makes The Case Against Socialism

As self-proclaimed “democratic socialists” continue to rant and rave against capitalism, the need for principled, liberty-minded leaders is more imperative now than ever. Rather than being assailed from without by communist foreign powers, American liberalism — defined by its belief in the power of personal liberty and economic freedom – is being infiltrated from within.

Fortunately, the battle for the soul of America is not yet lost. Though few and far between, there still remain dedicated men and women willing to wade into the intellectual fog-of-war that is American politics and stand resolutely for those our nation’s founding principles. Chief among these champions for liberty is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

In his latest book, “The Case Against Socialism,” Paul — in typical fashion — refuses to pull any punches. Rather than kowtow to the prevailing winds of revisionism seeking to paint world history in broad, red strokes, Paul directly challenges proponents of new-wave socialism like Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). What’s more, he unabashedly demolishes the Oliver Stone-esque perception that socialism “really isn’t that bad.”

Before even concluding the introduction, Paul jumps straight to the heart of the matter, informing the reader that “[t]his is the story of an evil well documented and yet somehow still enticing … of socialism in all its drab and dreary machinelike destruction of individual thought, creativity, and ambition.” He continues, “This is the story of socialism in all its violence, bloodshed, and tyranny. It is a cautionary tale of how America has so far eluded the siren call of something for nothing … but also of how close we still are to succumbing to socialism.”

To begin his unvarnished look into the history of socialism, Paul wastes no time in attacking the misinformed “Hollywood socialists” who praise the likes of Hugo Chavez, Nicol├ís Maduro, and Fidel Castro. He reminds us that, not very long ago, important American figures like Noam Chomsky and then-Representative Bernie Sanders praised the election of Hugo Chavez, pointing to poverty statistics as evidence of socialism’s virtue.

Yet, as history has consistently proven time and time again, the fruits of socialism quickly give way to oppressive violence, food shortages, and utter devastation. Contrary to what “democratic” socialists in Congress might have you believe, in the words of Venezuelan professor Daniel Lahoud; “I have known the reality of the failure of socialism in my own flesh. And as I live in Venezuela, I want to show that this is an absolute failure always and everywhere.”

Simply pointing out the failures of despotic socialist regimes is not sufficient for Paul to fully discredit socialism. For this, he addresses the common misconception of Scandinavian socialism. Countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are often used as props that American socialists can point to as evidence of socialism’s success. Unfortunately for them, this assertion falls flat once it gets beyond a sound bite. So strong is this misconception that the Prime Minister of Denmark reprimanded Sanders “and asked him to stop insulting his country as ‘socialist.’”

According to Paul, the apparent successes of Scandinavian socialism are leftover byproducts from pre-socialist policies. For example, longitudinal analysis of Sweden’s economic development shows consistently strong growth from the 1870s until the rise of socialism in Sweden in the 1970s.

Since then, Sweden has seen massive increases in government spending as a percentage of GDP that correlates with a faltering economy as a direct result of socialist policies. In deriding the left’s obsession with Scandinavia, Paul correctly points out that Scandinavian countries have been moving further away from socialism as they have begun to feel the long term effects of such policies.

Socialism is a scourge on the human condition. Time and time again, elites and intellectuals have sought to remold society only to fail miserably. What’s more, the centralized planning of men like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot resulted in some of the worst atrocities in human history. Yet, democratic socialists in Congress continue to believe that things will be different this time. This time socialism will work. Such a belief is not only foolhardy and ill-informed but downright dangerous. To make matters worse, this notion is once again being promoted from the ivory tower by political elites and intellectuals, not everyday Americans.

In an essay published in 1967, “The Intellectuals and Socialism,” Friedrich Hayek tackled a similar rise of socialist intellectualism in the United States; pointing out that the move towards socialism has always started with the elites and intellectuals. At the conclusion of this essay, Hayek cuts to the heart of the issue:

“We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage … We need intellectual leaders who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote.”

The case against socialism is simple; it has never worked and it never will work. No amount of flowery campaign speeches or enraged table-thumping will change this. For this reason, it is important that, in such a divisive time as this, we support those “who are willing to work for an ideal … [those] who are willing to stick to principles,” which are, the principles of liberty. It is just as important that we support those who are willing to stick up for the truth of history against the revisionism of political elites. Paul is each of these things, and I am proud to consider him such a strong ally in the battle against socialism.

SOURCE 

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How Trump’s New Executive Orders Protect the Public Against the Administrative State

Washington may be burning with talk of impeachment, but President Donald Trump is not fiddling.

He’s continuing to deliver valuable results on regulatory reform. On Oct. 9, he issued two executive orders (here and here) that protect the public—the people, their employers, and their communities—against unknown agency interpretations of the law that could cost them their money or their jobs, or that could land them in prison.

These new orders go beyond deregulation and cutting red tape. They help to secure individual liberty through the advancement of timeless, nonpartisan principles, such as fair notice, due process, transparency, accountability, and rigorous, analytical decision-making.

The orders are a win-win—a win for good government and a win for the American people.

The goal of the orders is to fix the regulatory process by returning it to its original design. The president isn’t burning down the house; he’s restoring it.

The orders start with a discussion of constitutional principles and the 73-year-old statute designed to protect them during the regulatory process (the Administrative Procedure Act).

The orders then note that agencies have at times circumvented those principles, with the results that the public doesn’t always receive the notice it needs, the opportunity to participate that it deserves, and the complete analysis (including an assessment of benefits, costs, and alternatives, including non-regulatory ones) that it wants.

People of good will across the philosophical or political spectrum agree on the problem and much of the solution. See, for example, recommendations from the Administrative Conference of the United States. The president’s new executive orders are important steps toward addressing this persistent problem.

One of those orders requires each agency to create a user-friendly database of all guidance documents that the agency has issued and intends to keep. All others must be rescinded.

The second order prohibits agencies from bringing enforcement actions against private parties for violating standards announced solely in guidance documents, not in acts of Congress or regulations issued through the Administrative Procedure Act notice-and-comment process.

Together, the two orders allow agencies to use guidance documents for their original purpose; namely, explaining what the agency does or thinks a law or regulation means—without putting the public at risk of being accused of violating a secret agency “law.”

What does that mean going forward? Significant new guidance will have to be proposed, not just issued. The public will have an opportunity to comment and object during that proposal period.

Agencies cannot issue “significant” guidance memoranda—generally, ones with economic effects of $100 million or more, ones that raise important legal or policy issues, or ones that create inconsistency with other government programs—until the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget has the opportunity to review them.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has long reviewed those memoranda under Executive Order 12866, but the new executive orders operate as a belt-and-suspenders measure to ensure that no significant guidance documents evade review.

They also give a private party an additional basis for challenging a government enforcement action due to an agency’s failure to comply with the new orders.

The orders complement other recent nonpartisan reforms. For example, they build on prior efforts to ensure that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs can analyze rules (including guidance memoranda) to determine whether rules are “significant” for purposes of the Congressional Review Act.

They complement efforts to improve the quality of information used in regulatory decision-making and to incorporate the regulatory actions of the U.S. Treasury Department into the ordinary regulatory-review process at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The Trump administration has successfully protected the public against regulatory overreach. According to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the administration imposed, on net, zero new regulatory costs during its first two years.

The administration has met its two-for-one goals even by the very conservative standard of comparing significant regulatory actions with significant deregulatory actions.

Trump and Congress also nullified more than a dozen agency rules via the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to “fast track” the repeal of rules. Finally, at last count, the administration removed or delayed some 1,500 unnecessary new regulations that were in the pipeline. 

The president’s new executive orders are important additions to the substantive and procedural reforms already accomplished.

These actions aren’t about deregulation or cutting red tape, but are about reforming the regulatory process itself to make it fairer and more accountable to the people. These good government reforms are necessary, important, and worthy of celebration.

SOURCE 

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SCOTUS to Hear Case Challenging the Constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Ever since it came into existence in 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been imperiled by its structure. Now, the Supreme Court is set to hear a case that challenges that structure and may force the agency to go out of business.

At issue is the unique independence of the head of the agency, who can only be removed  for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.”

On the surface, this is a clear violation of the separation of powers. To constrain the executive's power arbitrarily was not something Congress can do.

The Trump administration has allowed the Justice Department to take the unusual position of arguing against a federal law -- something it rarely does.

Daily Caller:

“Vesting such power in a single person not answerable to the president represents a stark departure from the Constitution’s framework,” the Trump administration told the justices in  court filings.

In a short Friday order, the justices also asked the parties to address whether the contested removal provision can be severed from the rest of the Dodd-Frank law. That gives the justices a path to strike down the removal position without imperiling the landmark Dodd-Frank law.

The bureau may have stopped some predatory lending practices, but it has also put a stranglehold on credit availability for the middle class. Its mandate is "to regulate mortgage servicing, pay-day lending, and stop predatory scams."

The CFPB has severely damaged the payday lending industry, although many financial experts believe it should have been more tightly regulated in the first place. But the CFPB's rules have also negatively affected other lending institutions that service high-risk borrowers. There's such a thing as overkill and the CFPB does it regularly.

Since Trump became president, the Republicans have tried to roll back some of the more onerous rules. But until the agency is consigned to the dustbin of history, it will continue to micromanage the nation's financial institutions.

That's why this case could be a landmark decision that actually restrains the government.

The case now before the court involves a California law firm called Seila Law the bureau investigated for allegedly unscrupulous debt relief practices. In turn, the firm challenged the constitutionality of the bureau’s structure.
As a professor at Harvard Law School, [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren agitated for the creation of a consumer protection agency. Though former President Barack Obama tapped her to set up the agency following passage of Dodd-Frank, she was ultimately passed over for the directorship due to protracted opposition to her appointment in the Senate.

Like the CFPB, some federal agencies are chartered to operate with a degree of independence from the political branches. In the past, the Supreme Court has allowed independent multi-member panels like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or investigatory independent counsels. The administration argues those precedents don’t apply here, however, because the CFPB director exercises executive power alone with no accountability to the president.

If there were a clearer example of government overreach, I haven't seen it. While it's likely that the provision in question will be struck down, how the agency as a whole fares is anyone's guess.

SOURCE 

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019



Image hosting blues

For years now there have been image hosting services that have  offered a convenient way of hosting images that you want to display on your blogs or other sites. I used Photobucket for a while, then Tinypic, then Imgur. Imgur was so convenient that it seems to have sent Tinypic out of business.  I used Tinypic mainly between 2006 and 2010.

As well as convenience, Imgur offered an explicit guarantee that an image hosted by them would remain there "forever".  Once posted there it would stay there. Given that for various reasons one could not always stay subscribed to the same ISP, that was particularly appealing.  One might chop and change the host for your blog, home page etc, but the availability of your images would remain unchanged.

But that has now come to an end,  Images hosted on both Tinypic and imgur are now no longer securely hosted,  In the case of Imgur, political correctness has raised its head. Images connected to forbidden topics are now de-hosted.  They are no longer where you put them.  So much for the offer of permanence. 

I must be one of the most incorrect people on the net.  I routinely put up scholarly comments about race, social class and IQ! That's three forbidden topics.  So it was to be expected that some of my pictures would vanish from where they were previously held. The social media generally are hostile to conservative content. And that now includes Imgur.

As long as you keep comprehensive backup files -- which I do -- there is no great drama in reposting deleted images elsewhere. It takes me only a couple of minutes per image to do so.  A rather objectionable feature of the current situation, however is that Imgur are not satisfied simply to dehost a picture but post instead of the deleted image a brightly colored and unpleasant-looking image whih presumably represents a troll.  It certainly motivates you to rehost your image pronto.

But here's the interesting thing: EVERY image ever hosted on Tinypic is now replaced by the same troll.  Imgur seems to have taken over what remains of Tinypic and proceeded to blow a raspberry at each and every one of Tinypic's former users. They seem to be penalizing anybody who once used Tinypic.  It is at least juvenile behaviour. Why they could not simply let Tinypic vanish into the night is a puzzle.

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Hillary's Attacks on Tulsi Gabbard Appear to be Backfiring

Gabbard is a much more attractive personality than Clinton so it was always Gabbard who would be believed

Hillary Clinton's bizarre accusation that the Russians are "grooming" Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard for a third party run at the White House appears to be having the exact opposite effect she intended. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,” Clinton said on a recent podcast.

That comment has led to an outpouring of support for Gabbard and harsh criticism of Clinton. In fact, Gabbard, who is barely registering in polls, is now fundraising off of the comment.

The Hill:

"Hillary Clinton accused Tulsi Gabbard — a combat veteran, soldier and Major in the Army National Guard — of being 'groomed' to be a 'Russian asset,'" reads a fundraising email sent by Gabbard's campaign on Saturday. "Tulsi fights back and demands Hillary join the race and face her directly," it continues.

Gabbard in the email said Clinton "finally came out from behind the curtain yesterday, accusing me of being a Russian asset" while asking supporters to pitch in $25 to her campaign.

"If this a fight she wants to have, one that has implications for all of us and the future of our democracy, then I challenge her to come out from behind her proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media, and face me directly," Gabbard added.

Clinton didn't reply directly. Instead, she politely cancelled an appearance at "The Most Powerful Women" summit in Washington where Gabbard is scheduled to speak.

Townhall:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday backed out of  Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. because Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen are also scheduled to speak,  Fox News reported. Her team, however, said it was because of "scheduling conflicts."
I guess she prefers hiding behind her proxies.

All of this has led to a surprising turn of events. Tulsi Gabbard is rising in Iowa.

Bloomberg:

On Saturday, Gabbard found fans among the many Clinton skeptics across Iowa, where Clinton barely won the 2016 Democratic caucuses against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"What is this horrible thing that Hillary said about you?" one person asked Gabbard at a house party in West Branch.

Gabbard responded that "it revealed the truth that I have been experiencing for a long time now — which is that, because I have been trying to bring about an end to our country's long-held foreign policy of waging one regime-change war after the next . [sic] I am labeled as a traitor."

"This is a message that is being sent to every single American . [sic] who speaks out for peace," she said.

Donald Trump gleefully fanned the flames of Democratic discord by jumping into the fray with both feet.

"So now Crooked Hillary is at it again! She is calling Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard “a Russian favorite,” and Jill Stein “a Russian asset.” As you may have heard, I was called a big Russia lover also (actually, I do like Russian people. I like all people!). Hillary’s gone Crazy!"

SOURCE 

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Soak the rich with taxes and everyone will get clobbered

Not that long ago there was a broad political consensus that a fair and efficient tax system has a broad tax base and low tax rates. The grand bargain was no special interest loopholes and low tax rates to boost the economy and jobs. As recently as the 1980s, Democrats and Republicans joined together to pass a tax reform that lowered income tax rates to 28 percent, while eliminating deductions and carve outs. Nearly every Senate Democrat, including Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Joe Biden, Bill Bradley, and Howard Metzenbaum, voted for this new system.

The tax reform worked. Economist Dale Jorgenson, then the chairman of the Harvard economics department, estimated that the net present value of the 1986 Tax Reform Act was well above $1 trillion to the economy because of lower tax rate penalties across the board. Politicians and the American voters had experienced the wreckage to the economy in the 1970s when tax rates stood as high as 70 percent.

The result was one of the worst decades for real middle class incomes since the Great Depression, skyrocketing unemployment, and a stock market that lost more than 60 percent of its value after inflation from 1968 to 1982. Working class Americans saw their retirement savings liquidated right before their eyes. High tax rates were not the only economic malady of that malaise decade, but they played a big part.

There was another practical reason for chopping tax rates down, as the rich found all sorts of clever and legal ways around paying those high tax rates. When the highest tax rate was between 70 percent and 90 percent, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans paid less than 20 percent of the income tax burden. Today, with a tax rate of 37 percent, the rich pay almost 40 percent of the income tax burden. High tax rates failed to soak the rich because they sheltered their income from taxes.

After both the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts, reported taxable income by those in the highest income tax bracket almost doubled in less than a decade. All of this recorded history has been lost among current liberal politicians and academics. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and many others are longing for a return to the era of punitive tax rates on the rich as a way to reduce income inequality. Economist Emmanuel Saez of the University of California argues we should go back to 70 percent tax rates since they worked so well the last time we imposed them.

In the 1950s and 1960s, when tax rates were as high as 90 percent, the economy was mostly prosperous. But the rich never paid those tax rates. Effective tax rates were actually much lower. This was also an era before the birth of the $2 trillion modern welfare and regulatory state and the taxes to pay for it. Medicare, Medicaid, and the payroll taxes to pay for them did not even exist back then in those glory days.

When President Kennedy cut the tax rate from 90 percent to 70 percent, the economy soared during the 1960s. Growth rates zoomed to 6 percent. When President Reagan chopped rates from 70 percent to 50 percent to 28 percent, the economy saw another burst of prosperity that former Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley dubbed the “seven fat years.”

The business tax cuts under President Trump have contributed to the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years and the biggest middle income gains in at least two decades. High tax rates did not work in the 1970s, but they will be even more harmful in the 21st century. What is different today from 50 years ago is globalization, with jobs, businesses, and investment capital flow to places in the world where after tax returns are highest. If we raise the income tax rate to above 50 percent, businesses and investment capital will flee to lower tax jurisdictions. Ask nations like France or Greece or Venezuela what happened to their economies when they devised new wealth tax systems to “soak the rich.”

Or look at the massive losses of people and income from high income tax states like New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Illinois, and even California. These states are bleeding wealth as residents relocate to low tax haven states like Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Utah. Does Senator Sanders really want to make us look like Connecticut, where localities are banning homeowners from posting “for sale” signs because the mad rush to leave is crushing real estate values?

An even worse idea is higher estate and wealth taxes. This has never worked. The United States has an estate tax of roughly 40 percent to extract money from the Bill Gates, Warren Buffets, and Tom Bradys of the country. However, it generates only about 1 percent of federal tax receipts and many studies find that the deadweight loss to the economy far exceeds the value of the tax collected. Even communist and socialist countries like Russia and Sweden have given up and repealed their estate taxes because they were harming their economies so noticeably.

SOURCE 

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Fake news or disinformation?

Journalism isn't just dead — it's decomposed.

When Chris Wallace — in all Deep State unctuousness — asked Mick Mulvaney on Fox News Sunday to comment on a "well-connected Republican" who allegedly told Wallace there was a 20 percent chance the GOP would vote to remove the president from office, he not only was aiding in that decomposition,  he was picking up a shovel and helping dig its grave.

Wallace didn't identify who this "well-connected Republican" is or what he actually said in context, just the tidbit the host wanted to tell us. What Wallace was doing was engaging in propaganda, creating a smear based on the flimsiest hearsay.

But, as we all know, he's not alone. This was only one of a myriad of cases and far from the worst. The employment of anonymous sources by media has been debated (and attacked) for years but since Trump was elected, their use has escalated into the stratosphere.  Barely a day goes by that we don't hear something from some "source close to someone or other" or a "person in position to know" about things we learn, sooner or later, to be lies or, at best, half truths. Other times we read "experts agree" or other such terms of non-art. What we are really getting are leaks that are supposedly illegal but almost never prosecuted.

Almost all of our leading newspapers and networks engage in this activity, some pretending to have checks and balances that are inscrutable from the outside and likely conveniently fudged from the inside. To name a few outlets that come immediately to mind, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal (in its front section), NBC, CBS, ABC and, of course, CNN are frequent culprits in this reliance on the anonymous. They do this repeatedly and win Pulitzers for the ensuing lies and misrepresentations. It's an old tradition, stemming back to the days when Walter Duranty lied about Stalin in the New York Times.

Trump made a mistake in labeling this "fake news." Besides being too colloquial, the term is too generic and allows for the possibility that in some cases at least this dishonesty may be an accident. People make mistakes, after all. Yes, but it's hardly ever true in these cases. It's usually quite deliberate deception. A much, much more accurate term would be disinformation, a technique frequently employed by intelligence agencies. It's a safe bet that many of these leaks arrived from ours. In that, our intelligence agencies were following in a grand tradition. The Soviets were experts at it. They wrote the book on disinformation.

Now the disinformation that is being put out is that Trump is on the rocks with Republicans. Mitt Romney may vote to impeach. Both The Washington Post and theWSJ have new stories warning of — or more properly "concern trolling" about — this disaffection. The word must be out. Chris Wallace was echoing the same narrative. The newly-minted NeverTrumper Matt Drudge is linking all this.

But is it true or is it disinfo? I'll go with the latter. In fact, given Trump's popularity with the Republican rank-and-file, it would be suicidal for incumbent Republican politicians to vote him out. They'd be out themselves at the next primary. And reporters at the WaPo and WSJ know that, unless they've been living under the proverbial rock or are willfully disregarding last week's Trump rally in Dallas that had more supporters standing outside the venue than any political candidate in recent memory has had inside. (I know--the polls say he's in trouble. Have you ever done a poll yourself? I have, several, for this website years ago, and learned some interesting things. Just as freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one, the results of a poll belong to the man who sets it up, i. e. asks the questions.)

What our media is doing is lying unabashedly as it has been doing since the outset of the Russia probe. Every one of the respected outlets listed above repeatedly reported the existence or the imminent proof of Trump-Russia collusion based on anonymous leaks.  None of it ever happened. It would be interesting to know what percentage of those leaks came from members of intelligence agencies. I suspect it would be a scary number.

SOURCE 

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 

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Monday, October 21, 2019


Amid rising anti-Semitism, the People of the Book rejoice with the Law

by Jeff Jacoby

ON OCTOBER 14, 1663, the English civil servant Samuel Pepys decided to pay a visit to the Jewish synagogue in London's Creechurch Lane. Jews were a novelty in Restoration England. They had been expelled from the realm nearly four centuries earlier, and it was only in 1656 that they had once again been permitted to live on English soil. Pepys, knowing nothing of Judaism, wasn't aware that his excursion happened to coincide with the most euphoric day in the Jewish calendar — the festival of Simchat Torah, or "rejoicing with the law."

What he saw bewildered him.

"But, Lord!" he recorded in his famous diary, "to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this."

What Pepys had unwittingly walked in on was a celebration of the oldest love affair in history — the infatuation of the Jewish people with the Torah. In Judaism, there are no saints to adore or icons to venerate. Rather, there is a book to study and teach: the scroll of the law, the Torah given by God to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai, the essential text with which Jews have engaged intellectually and been sustained emotionally for more than three millennia.

That book is "our most cherished possession," writes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the noted British theologian and member of the House of Lords. "We stand in its presence as if it were a king. We dance with it as if it were a bride. We kiss it as if it were a friend. If, God forbid, one is damaged beyond repair, we mourn it as if it were a member of the family." If a Torah scroll is accidentally dropped, everyone who witnesses it is expected to fast in penance. When a synagogue is burned, whether by accident or by arson, there is an immediate, palpable anxiety to know whether the Torah scrolls were saved or lost.

Simchat Torah occurs on the last day of a three-week sequence of fall holidays. It follows Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (the feast of Tabernacles). Unlike those holidays, however, Simchat Torah is not biblically ordained. It was not imposed by religious authorities from the top down, but grew organically from the bottom up. Its roots reach back 15 centuries to the ancient Jewish community of Babylonia, which formalized the practice of publicly reading the entire Torah — from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy — over the course of a year. The completion of the annual cycle became an occasion of joy, marked by singing and dancing around the synagogue with the Torah scrolls. Adults and children alike take part in the festivities. And as soon as the final verses of Deuteronomy are chanted from the end of one scroll, another is opened and the first chapter of Genesis is chanted: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The Jewish engagement with the Torah never ends; as soon as we finish, we start again.

The "people of the book," Jews are called. The phrase comes from the Koran, where it appears 31 times — an apt emphasis, for no nation has ever been as closely identified with a book as have Jews with the Torah. Sacks notes that by the time Simchat Torah had spread throughout the Jewish world, Jews had lost everything that would seem indispensable to national survival: land, sovereignty, political freedom, a military. Yet they still had their book to study and teach and rejoice with. Somehow, through the centuries of wandering and exile, that was enough to keep Jewish peoplehood alive.

Three centuries after Pepys made his diary entry, another renowned writer encountered Jews celebrating Simchat Torah. In 1965, Elie Wiesel traveled to the Soviet Union, where Jews lived in fear and religion was repressed. And yet, he discovered, on one day of the year — Simchat Torah — throngs of young Jews streamed to the remaining synagogue in Moscow, bravely defying the KGB to openly celebrate their Jewishness.

For centuries, in communities all over the world, Jews have danced on Simchat Torah. Above: Solomon Alexander Hart's 1850 painting "The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, Italy"

Wiesel was astonished.

"Where did they all come from?" he marveled. "Who told them that tens of thousands of boys and girls would gather here to sing and dance and rejoice in the joy of the Torah? They who barely know each other and know even less of Judaism — how did they know that? I spent hours among them, dazed and excited, agitated by an ancient dream." It was a harbinger of the coming struggle to save Soviet Jewry, which would eventually crack open the Iron Curtain and change the trajectory of the Cold War.

Simchat Torah returns this week amid a rising global tide of antisemitism. One year after the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh and just days after the Yom Kippur shooting in Halle, Germany, Jews increasingly require police protection when they gather in prayer. Nevertheless, synagogues the world over will be filled anew with the same euphoria that so startled Pepys and amazed Wiesel. The People of the Book will once again rejoice with the Law, dancing with the scrolls that have been, for 33 centuries, the ultimate source of their identity and strength.

SOURCE 

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CIVIL WAR: Marianne Williamson and Bernie Sanders' Campaign Co-Chair Support Tulsi Gabbard

Three outside campaigns are joining forces against The Queen of Darkness. And it's quite a sight.

When Hillary Clinton launched a vicious attack against Democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, she undoubtedly thought that doing so could destroy Tulsi's campaign... and possibly even her career. The reason for Hillary's hatred towards Tulsi was clear from the get-go. As Tulsi herself explained on Tucker Carlson Tonight, she is against everything Hillary represents. She's against regime-change wars. She's against a new arms race. She's an outsider -- a veteran -- rather than a career politician. What's more, she seems to be incorruptible and honest.

In other words, she's basically the anti-Hillary.

Although it was quite shocking to see just how viciously Hillary attacked Tulsi, there's some good news for the congresswoman/former soldier: other presidential candidates and/or their campaigns are publicly taking her side.

Here is Marianne Williamson, another outsider and Democratic presidential candidate who criticized her fellow liberals earlier for treating her less fairly than conservatives. And not only does Williamson clearly stand by Tulsi, she also blasts her own party in the process:

"The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient! The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire," Williamson writes on Twitter. "Stay strong @TulsiGabbard. You deserve respect and you have mine."

This is quite a sight to behold. Democratic women are -- correctly and rightfully! -- pointing out that the supposed "feminism" of the Democratic Party is nothing but a sham. They aren't women-friendly, they're establishment-friendly. And "feminism" is nothing but a tool for them to get some extra votes. It isn't heartfelt, it isn't something they actually believe in.

Williamson isn't the only prominent Democratic outsider who is publicly taking a stand in favor of Tulsi. The same goes for Nina Turner, national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

"Good morning Sister [Tulsi Gabbard]," Turner writes on Twitter. "I'm just catching up with the foolery that's going on. I'm SMDH [Shaking My Damn Head] hard. Four words: Keep. Your. Head. Up."

The surprise support from Turner and Williamson for Tulsi is very telling. They are all outsiders; they're all up against the same machine... and they've all experienced the same bullying Tulsi is experiencing now. Still, it requires courage for them to publicly take a stand.

I disagree strongly with most of their views with regard to politics, but I have to admit: you don't often see this kind of courage in politics. Good on you, ladies. Stay strong. Stand tall. And keep your head up. Don't let the Clinton Machine put you down.

SOURCE 

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Tulsi Goes Nuclear on Hillary: 'Queen of Warmongers, Embodiment of Corruption'

As we reported yesterday, Hillary Clinton recently opened the attack on both Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein, accusing them of being Vladimir Putin's little puppets.

Sadly for Mrs. Clinton, Tulsi doesn't take such accusations lying down. Neither should she, of course. After all, unlike Hillary, Tulsi has actually served her country as a soldier. She has literally put her life on the line for America. Being accused of being a "Russian tool," then, is a very serious accusation in her eyes; one that she isn't willing to tolerate.

"Great! Thank you Hillary Clinton," Tulsi writes on Twitter. "You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know -- it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose."

Next, Tulsi correctly concludes that, from her perspective, the primary really is between her and Hillary. "Don't cowardly hide behind your proxies," she tells Hillary. "Join the race directly."

It is hard to exaggerate the evil that is Hillary "Corruption" Clinton. This woman is literally willing to destroy lives to further her own career -- of that of her allies. Note that I didn't write "friends," but "allies." A person with as rotten a heart as Hillary doesn't have friends.

Other politicians, who have at least something resembling a heart, often attack opponents for being weak or the exact opposite (an aggressive, out-of-control bugaboo). Such lines of attack don't go nearly far enough for The Queen of Darkness, however. Oh no, when she sets her eye on a prey, she goes in for the kill by accusing the victim of literally betraying America. She doesn't care one bit if that victim happens to be a retired soldier who saw her friends die on the battlefields of the Middle East. They stand in her way. That is enough for them to warrant destruction.

Thankfully, Tulsi is a veteran, which means that she's not exactly afraid to fight. She's right to point out the incredible corruption that is Hillary Clinton, and the American Empire-ideology she has been pushing through Americans' throats for so long. Sure, this is unlikely to make her more popular among her party's leaders, but it will almost certainly do wonders for her popularity among millennials and Gen Z. After all, if those two generations hate one thing, it's Clintonite politics.

SOURCE 

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IN BRIEF

ABC'S FAKE NEWS: "ABC News aired footage claiming to show a Turkish attack on a Syrian border town that was actually from a 2017 video of an American shooting range," The Washington Free Beacon reveals. Regardless of anyone's position on Trump's Syria policy, engineering a crisis is way beyond the pale.

WHO'D A THUNK IT? Target cuts workers' hours after vowing to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2020 (National Review)

HELPING THE LITTLE GUY: Blue-collar employment thriving under Trump — hits 50-year high (The New American)

SWING AND A MISS: Tribal chiefs urge Atlanta Braves to end the "tomahawk chop" (New York Post)

MORE DALLAS-AREA FALLOUT: Ex-Fort Worth police officer charged with murder after shooting black woman in her home; occurred less than two weeks after Amber Guyger's sentencing (USA Today)

SCHUMER THWARTED: Chuck Schumer's bid to rebuke Trump over Syria fails in Senate (The Washington Times)

FREE SPEECH: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he fears "erosion of truth" but defends allowing politicians to lie in ads (The Washington Post)

SNUBBING NEARLY HALF THE UNION: San Francisco blacklists 22 states over pro-life laws (National Review)

TARIFF FALLOUT: China's GDP growth grinds to near 30-year low as tariffs hit production (Reuters)

"ABSURD, IMMORAL, AND OFFENSIVE": UN member states hand Venezuela's brutal Maduro regime a seat on the Human Rights Council (CNSNews.com)

POLICY: Why Mexico is cooperating with us on immigration (National Review)

SATIRE: Congress votes to protect Syria's border but not the U.S. border (Genesius Times) Satire or reality?

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 

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Sunday, October 20, 2019


Wealth taxes

Even her fellow Democrats are challenging Elizabeth Warren on how she will pay for her big spending proposals. Her answer to that relies very heavily on her proposed wealth tax. She clearly thinks it will be a goldmine. There have already been some good comments on why such a tax will be very destructive but I just want to set out the kernel arguments about why such a tax will raise little if anything.

For a start, great wealth is not usually held in the form of bank deposits. It is almost all in the form of real estate, shares and other tangible assets -- so liquidating even a small part of that would depress asset prices generally. And that will depress spending and investments across the board. It will affect the wealth of large sections of the population, leading to very negative feeling among job creators. Unemployment would shoot up and income tax receipts would be reduced.

And the second effect would be large scale emigration among the wealthy. Some nearby Caribbean islands are pleasant places to live in the sun and many have very low tax rates. To escape the tentacles of Uncle Sam, the emigrants would also have to renounce their American citizenship but many retirees do that already. And You only have to bring a few million with you to be granted residence in Australia or New Zealand and you can definitely drink the water there. And there is never any need to press 1 for English. A lot of rich people have well-appointed bolt-holes in NZ already.

And when the rich move out, they take their income taxes with them -- as well as escaping a wealth tax. And the rich pay a big proportion of income tax so, once again, tax revenue would FALL.

Even if she can't tax the departed rich Warren might have the bright idea of taxing any assets left behind in the USA. But that would lead to a mass liquidation of assets, with the proceeds of that going to purchase assets elsewhere.

High taxing Leftist governments have encountered that problem before and their response is to make the currency not convertible -- so you can't use greenbacks to buy (say) New Zealand dollars. But that drives away all foreign investments, which are a major source of jobs in America. So Warren's "clever" proposal would lead to lower revenues and higher unemployment.

She seems a smart sort of woman so she probably knows all that. As a Leftist, the thought of destroying American prosperity probably turns her on


Warren would apply a 2% tax on every dollar of net worth for households worth $50 million or more, and a 3% tax on every dollar of net worth beyond $1 billion.

According to tables in a recent paper by Saez and Zucman, this would apply to around $11 trillion of holdings this year, producing revenue of at least $220 billion.

Sanders’ “extreme wealth tax” would levy a 1% tax on the first dollar of net worth above $32 million. That tax would rise in increments, to 2% on net worth between $50 million to $250 million all the way up to 8% on wealth above $10 billion.

Sanders’ campaign estimated the plan, which would tax just the top 0.1% of U.S. households, would raise an estimated $4.35 trillion over the next decade.

Saez and Zucman say their research points to the wealth tax as an effective way to equalize the amount of tax paid by people with massive fortunes like investor Warren Buffett and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with the middle-class, and then seed the proceeds through the economy.

Had the Warren proposal been in place since 1982, the share of wealth held by the top 400 would still have risen - but only to 2%. A higher tax rate of 10% on holdings above $1 billion, meanwhile, would have kept that group’s share of national wealth stable.

In more individual terms, the 3% rate on holdings above a billion would mean Bezos would be worth just $86 billion this year, versus $160 billion. At the bottom of the top 15, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson would have $18 billion, versus $35 billion.

A dozen European nations used to have wealth taxes but most have done away with them. France, one of the last, abolished its wealth tax in late 2017, after thousands of millionaires relocated to neighboring, lower-tax countries.

Saez and Zucman argue that Europe’s history with wealth taxes is not relevant to the United States because those countries set their wealth tax bar too low, and because it is easier to relocate within the continent for favorable tax laws.

The U.S. tax system, on the other hand, essentially taxes all citizens, no matter where they live.

SOURCE

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The Totalitarian American Left

BY DAVID LIMBAUGH

The left is becoming more unapologetically totalitarian every day. Every freedom-loving American should be alarmed.

From hounding conservatives out of restaurants to spitting on Trump supporters at rallies, from firing employees for politically incorrect statements to fining people for "misgendering" a person, the left is on a path toward absolutism.

Even some former and current leftists have recognized this intolerant trend and broken from their colleagues, lamenting their intolerance of opposing ideas and disturbing mission to suppress dissenting opinion.

Just the other day, three incidents typifying the left's authoritarianism popped out at me as I was surveying the morning news.

The Federalist reported that venues in three North American cities -- Toronto, Brooklyn, and Portland -- canceled screenings of a movie about Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson because of leftist criticism. Peterson exploded onto the scene in recent years with his no-nonsense, brilliant, and clear-eyed critique of insane cultural trends, especially those concerning gender.

Peterson's book "12 Rules for Life" is wildly popular, and there are countless viral videos featuring his encounters with various leftist interviewers, panelists and audience members who have tried and failed to entrap him on a number of issues, and been reduced -- in every case -- to blundering, ineffectual bullies.

 If you haven't partaken of these videos, you owe it to yourself to witness one arrogant leftist after another being gobsmacked by the simple weapon of unadulterated logic. These videos are irresistibly contagious and imminently satisfying for those longing to see intellectually defenseless, virtue-signaling finger waggers brought to their knees through the medium of polite debate.

Peterson, you see, won't kowtow to the leftists' demand that we embrace the tenets of gender ideology, which teaches that gender is less about biology and more about personal identification. He refuses to support laws that criminalize one's failure to use a person's preferred pronouns, such as "they" instead of "she."

Peterson has the temerity to say that men and women are biologically different, and that gender is not a fluid, human construct. That doesn't sit well with the left, which not only insists that we accept its cockeyed ideas as normal but also advocates imposing them on us by force of law.

Can you get your mind around the irony of the left banning a movie about Peterson because he's dangerous? Who is more dangerous: a person who peaceably expresses an opinion that happens to be supported by thousands of years of human experience and common sense, or those who try to ban his voice or even a movie about it? This is "1984"-level scary, and it's getting worse by the hour.

Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin Ditch Patreon Over SPLC, Credit Card Censorship

On what possible grounds is the left arguing that Peterson's views are dangerous? He doesn't advocate violence; he isn't a rabble-rouser or revolutionary. He simply states his opinion instead of genuflecting to the despotic left.

But they claim that if Peterson's views are openly expressed, he might convince other people that he's right, and that could lead to the proliferation of conservative thought. Peterson's "conservative perspectives on feminism and gender," according to an opinion piece in The New York Times, "are very popular among young men and often are a path to more extreme content and ideologies." Think about this. Conservative speech is dangerous because it is a slippery slope to the adoption of conservative ideas? This must be satire. Do these clueless cranks know how ridiculous they sound?

Again, who is more extreme and dangerous: Jordan Peterson, who advocates the silencing of no one and expresses mainstream opinions, or leftists, who are actively trying to censor Peterson?

Please don't make the reckless mistake of dismissing this crusade against Peterson as exceptional. This is the left's pattern, and it is becoming more aggressive all the time.

The second and third incidents I came across are further proof that the left is increasingly Stalinist. In the most recent Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris pushed for the suspension of President Trump's Twitter, speciously alleging that he is trying to obstruct justice and intimidate and threaten witnesses. You see, the left always has some urgent rationale to smother conservative speech -- whether it's to prevent the incitement of violence or obstruction of justice. But it just wants to shut us up.

Those who would silence the other side are the very definition of dangerous. Don't take Harris' musings lightly, even if she is mostly posturing to gin up more support from the Trump-hating Democratic base. It is instructive that efforts to muzzle speech almost always come from the left, not the right, because the left is insecure about the popularity of its kooky ideas.

The third incident involved demagogue and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who said in a CNN forum on LGBT issues that churches and religious organizations should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage. If I have to explain how outrageous this is, the country is in even greater danger than I imagined.

I found these examples in 15 minutes of reading this week. They are everywhere. America was founded on the idea of claiming and preserving our God-given liberties. The illiberal left, which believes our rights and freedoms come from government, is hell-bent on destroying our liberties and forcibly imposing its thoughts and ideas on all of us.

God save us.

SOURCE 

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Why They Hate Tulsi Gabbard

She's the only decent candidate they've got, as far as I can see. She actually seems susceptable to reason 

Note to Democrats: If you want to win your party’s presidential nomination in 2020, make sure you march as far to the left as possible — preferably off the cliff.

These days, any politician who doesn’t embrace the most radical elements of the Left’s agenda is disparaged and denounced. Democrats and their media brethren have been doing this to Donald Trump since he became a Republican, and now they’re going after one of their own.

Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat presidential candidate, Hawaii congresswoman, National Guard major, Samoan American, and Hindu is being portrayed as — get this — a Russian ally and a bedfellow of white nationalists. Why? Because she’s taken old-school Democrat stances on issues of foreign policy, drugs, and abortion.

That’s how far left the Democrat Party has moved.

Gabbard’s views on a range of issues certainly aren’t to be mistaken for Reagan-style conservatism. But compared to the rest of the Democrat field, she’s as American as Normal Rockwell. And this has apparently caused the media to smear Gabbard as a politician more at home on the alt-right than in the Democrat Party.

Swallow your drink first, but Hillary Clinton likewise chimed in, “I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Gabbard called such smears “completely despicable.”

Earlier this month, The New York Times lamented, “On podcasts and online videos, in interviews and Twitter feeds, alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard. They like the Hawaiian congresswoman’s isolationist foreign policy views. They like her support for drug decriminalization. They like what she sees as censorship by big technology platforms.”

Wait a minute. Haven’t Democrats always been big supporters of drug decriminalization? When did that become a right-wing issue? And leftists have proudly marched against every U.S. military endeavor since Vietnam, but now we’re supposed to believe they’re foreign-policy hawks ready to defend American interventionism abroad?

Of course, it’s not about principle. It’s all about President Trump. Whatever he supports, Democrats must reflexively oppose.

“Regime change wars are just fine with most 2020 Democrats, so long as it allows them to oppose Trump,” Jack Hunter writes at the Washington Examiner. “The president’s recent policy in Syria is not unlike the anti-regime change stance Obama promoted as a candidate in 2008. The Obama-Biden ticket won the White House by opposing Bush’s regime change war in Iraq and promising not to repeat that mistake (although they eventually did).”

Republicans aren’t going to storm Gabbard’s Capitol Hill office and ask her to switch parties, but there’s a dose of decency and common sense in what she says. And she’s not afraid to step out of line, which is no doubt why Trump supporters often like what she has to say. In fact, that characteristic is part of why Trump was elected in 2016. Like the president, Gabbard marches to the beat of her own drummer.

Reason’s Robby Soave writes of Gabbard’s Libertarian appeal, “Indeed, Gabbard was the only candidate on the stage Tuesday night to advocate a unilateral, immediate end to the disastrous policy of intervening in every conflict in the Middle East with the goal of changing the regimes. As she wisely noted, such schemes have backfired in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and likely would have backfired in Syria if undertaken there as well. Refreshingly, Gabbard called out both parties and the mainstream media for their complicity in the U.S.‘s foolish foreign policy interventionism.”

But she didn’t stop there. During the Ohio debate, Gabbard took a position that’s certainly to the left of most Republicans but still considered unacceptable by every other Democrat candidate. Responding to a question about states restricting abortion, Gabbard replied, “There should be some restrictions in place. I support codifying Roe v. Wade — while making sure that, during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk.”

Uh-oh, Tulsi. There goes the nomination.

In the minds of Democrats, taking the wrong stance on the military or drug enforcement is bad enough, but utter anything other than prostrate praise for the holy sacrament of “choice,” including government-funded abortion-on-demand, and you’re toast as a viable Democrat political candidate.

It’s sad to see one of our two major political parties destroy anyone who dares challenge their status quo. In the end, Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t have a chance of securing her party’s nomination, but her campaign has served America well by reminding the rest of us just how extreme the Democrat Party has become. And that’s good news for Trump in 2020

SOURCE 

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Mexico has deported over 300 Indian nationals to New Delhi, the National Migration Institute (INM) said late on Wednesday, in what it described as an unprecedented transatlantic deportation

The 310 men and one woman that INM said were in Mexico illegally were sent on a chartered flight, accompanied by federal immigration agents and Mexico’s National Guard.

The people had been scattered in eight states around the country, INM said, including in southern Mexico where many Indian migrants enter the country, hoping to transit to the U.S. border.

“It is unprecedented in INM’s history - in either form or the number of people - for a transatlantic air transport like the one carried out on this day,” INM said in a statement.

The Mexican government in June struck a deal with the United States, vowing to significantly curb U.S.-bound migration in exchange for averting U.S. tariffs on Mexican exports.

Caitlyn Yates, a research coordinator at IBI Consultants who has studied increasing numbers of U.S.-bound Asian and African migrants arriving in Mexico, said the backlog of migrants in southern Mexico has grown as officials have stopped issuing permits for them to cross the country.

“This type of deportation in Mexico is the first of its kind but likely to continue,” Yates said.

SOURCE 

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here

**************************

Friday, October 18, 2019


The Not So Special Relationship: How Trump Has Bewildered the United Kingdom

There is a long article in "Foreign Affairs" under the above heading.  It makes clear that the UK bureaucracy and elite generally are regularly flummoxed by Trump.  They seem unaware that Trump also regularly flummoxes the American bureaucracy and elite.

But the question the article raises is whether Trump has eroded the "special relationship' that has long existed between the USA and the UK?  It's an odd question to ask when you note that Mr Trump is in fact half British by birth, has significant investments in Britain and has often made positive comments about Britain.  And there is an undoubted warmth between Prime Minister Johnson and President Trump. Each clearly sees the other as similar to himself. That all sounds special to me. And I don't mind predicting that the longevity of the Johnson Prime Ministership will be considerable.

What is undoubted however is that Mr Trump upsets the British bureaucracy.  They suddenly find that their customary policies and positions no longer work reliably.  Good! one might be inclined to exclaim.  Perhaps their customary policies and positions are in need of a spring cleaning!

Clearly, however, Trump is a "one off".  It's unimaginable that we will ever see another President like him.  Though subsequent Presidents will undoubtedly learn from him. 

But Trump has revealed important truths:  That culltivating personal relationship with heads of opponent governments can lead to important advances towards peace: That patroitism is a powerful force for conservatives to draw upon and that deregulation is as poweful a force for prosperity as regulation is a force for economic stagnation.  Nobody foresaw 3.5% unemployment or Mr  Kim's clear eagerness for a rapprochement.  So the plain truth is that both the American and British establishments need to stop whining and instead learn from Mr Trump that his overturning of established customs and pieties is something to learn from.

Like Ronald Reagan before him, he is a very radical conservative.  The Left, by contrast have learned nothing since the 19th century.  "Let the government do it" must be just about the most moronic policy ever devised.

Perhaps the most amusing thing about this whole matter is that Obama and his cohorts really did disrespect the special relationship. His critics are accusing Trump of what Obama did.  But Obama was the spearhead of the steady Leftist advance through society so everything he did could be understood.-- JR

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In Trump Fact Check, CNN Fact-Checker Leaves Out …the Facts

CNN’s fact-checking unit reached out last week to The Heritage Foundation for analysis of President Donald Trump’s recent comments about the U.S. military’s munitions stockpile at the time he took office.

Bewilderingly, the fact-checker for the cable news pioneer then ignored those facts.

Some 24 hours and multiple emails after the initial request, CNN published its “fact check,” claiming Trump severely exaggerated the sad state of the munitions stockpile when he became president, and also his impact on the rebuild since.

Just one problem: CNN completely omitted the wealth of data provided by a Heritage Foundation defense analyst demonstrating exactly the opposite to be true.

This episode highlights an important question—every reporter is a fact-checker. But what’s the response when someone, especially someone with “fact-checker” in his title, just … gets the fact checks wrong?

Based on research provided to CNN, Col. John “JV” Venable, Heritage’s senior research fellow for defense programs, laid out how the U.S. military was indeed facing a munitions shortage in the waning years of the Obama administration. Venable is a retired Air Force pilot with 25 years of service.

Using publicly available data from U.S. Central Command and the secretary of the Air Force’s Financial Management website, Venable showed that the joint force dropped more than twice as many precision-guided munitions (PGMs)—think “smart bombs,” like the JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition)—in just the last three years of the Obama administration than the Air Force could purchase during the full eight years of President Barack Obama’s tenure.

While Navy numbers were not included in the analysis to CNN, Venable did note that Air Force acquisition of precision-guided munitions dwarfs that of the Navy—analysis the numbers also showed to be true.

According to a 2018 Defense Department Selective Acquisition Report, the service purchased a total of 4,485 JDAM guidance kits during the eight years of the Obama presidency. When added to the 45,198 the Air Force purchased during the same years, the joint force collectively acquired 49,963 precision munitions, while it dropped around 96,000 in just the three years preceding Trump’s inauguration.

Not only was the force dropping far more bombs than it was taking in—the delay between getting munitions from the checkout line to the flight line was also a compounding factor. 

“[I]t takes 2-3 years from purchase order to delivery of these munitions,” Venable wrote to CNN, adding that, “Currently the Trump administration is rebuilding the PGM stockpile by purchasing as many munitions as current production capacity allows.”

The bottom line, he wrote, “is that the Obama administration effectively gutted the munitions stockpile.”

Trump’s leadership has reversed that trend markedly, however.

“By the end of fiscal year 2020, the Trump administration will have acquired more than four times the number of GPS-guided munitions than were acquired during the eight years of the Obama administration—years when expenditures [munitions dropped] were very high,” Venable told CNN.

At current rates for the Air Force, the total will come to more than 192,000 munitions by next October.

The evidence is overwhelming: The U.S. military was facing a dwindling precision munitions stockpile as Obama left the White House, and, all bluster aside, Trump has begun to erase it.

Unfortunately, CNN’s piece, which should have evaluated those very numbers, included none of them. Instead, the piece (“Fact check: Trump exaggerates on munitions shortage”) found Trump’s claim to be “a severe exaggeration.”

Despite having Venable’s analysis in hand, the author, Daniel Dale, wrote: “It has never been clear how dire or how unusual the perceived shortage was, since the military does not release comprehensive data about ammunition levels.”

When asked why such important details, which should have markedly changed the outcome of the fact check itself, were omitted, the fact-checker replied: “I very much do not think that JV’s data … was itself even remotely close to assess the extent of the shortage.”

To make matters worse, the piece used vague, data-less commentary from other analysts downplaying any possible munitions shortage, while omitting the numbers-based data from Venable that showed Trump’s comments may have been correct.

He also claimed the numbers irrelevant to the “military’s concern” about specific “possible contingencies.”

Yet, Venable wrote in his analysis: “Estimates for the monthly expenditure of munitions in a war with China or Russia dwarf the 5,000 PGM munitions/month the U.S. endured at the height of the GWOT [Global War on Terror].”

In other words, the shortage was even more drastic, not less, if tied to a specific conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran, because the military would need even more munitions to successfully engage in such a conflict.

What this instance illustrates is the importance of unbiased fact-checking, and a pursuit of narrative based on the facts, not the other way around.

I have worked with a wide variety of reporters for nearly a decade, and let me tell you—it’s not mere lip-service to say that the overwhelming majority, whether official “fact-checkers” or not, take their responsibility to uncover and report the truth seriously.

And, they do this despite what some at the highest levels of government today might say.

However, sometimes individuals get the story wrong. When that happens, those involved in helping tell it should correct the record, especially about a topic as vital as the strength of our military.

Indeed, downplaying this facet of the readiness crisis serves only to hurt the military most of all. If the public is not aware of the military’s needs, how can they be expected to support the actions necessary to meet those needs? 

Ultimately, it is critical that those tasked with evaluating statements of fact do everything in their power to take all the evidence into account before making statements of fact of their own.

That is the right standard for all of us.

SOURCE 

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It's a Middle-Class Boom
 
How much of the monetary gains from the Trump economic speedup have gone to the middle class? If you ask Democratic senators and presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, the answer to that question is … almost none.

“(Donald) Trump’s economy is great for billionaires, not for working people,” Sanders likes to say. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi grouses that under the Trump agenda, “the rich get richer, and everyone else is stuck paying the bill.”

Uh-huh. That’s been the standard liberal riff for the last couple of years as they try to explain how a president who they said would create a second Great Depression has created boom times with the lowest inflation and unemployment in half a century.

But not a word of this is true, according to new Census Bureau data on the incomes of America’s middle class. This study by former Census Bureau researchers and now statisticians at Sentier Research has found gigantic income gains for the middle class under Trump. The median or average-income family has seen a gain of $5,003 since Trump came into office. Median family income is now (August 2019) $65,976, up from about $61,000 when he entered office (January 2017).

Under George W. Bush, the household income gains were a little over $400 in eight years, and under Barack Obama the gains were $1,043. That was in eight years for each. Under Trump, in less than three years, the extra income is about three times larger.

These gains under Trump are so large in such a short period of time that I asked the Sentier Research team to triple-check the numbers. Sure enough, on each occasion, the income swing was $5,000.

This is a bonanza for the middle class, and the extra income in tens of millions of Americans’ pockets is getting spent. Consumers are king in America today, and fatter wallets translate into more store sales. Home Depot and Lowe’s recently recorded huge sales surges.

The tax cut also added an additional $2,500 to a typical family of four’s after-tax incomes. So after taking account of taxes owed, the income of most middle-class families is up closer to $6,000 in the Trump era.

Memo to Pelosi: That ain’t crumbs.

Ronald Reagan used to talk about the importance of real take-home pay. He asked voters in 1980, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” (when Jimmy Carter was elected). Thanks to high taxes, high inflation and high unemployment in the late 1970s, the answer to that question was clearly no. Reagan won and Carter lost.

Trump should begin asking Americans if they are better off than they were four years ago. Today, the answer to that question is clearly yes. It’s the economy, stupid. Everyone — especially the middle class — is sharing in the fruits of the Trump boom.

SOURCE 

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Drugs: A Grim Prognosis for Seniors and Families

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recently introduced drug pricing bill, deceptively crafted to appear as a compromise, in reality amounts to a poison pill for America’s patients, taxpayers and innovators: a down payment on socialized medicine in America.

Pelosi’s plan is a far-left liberal’s dream — socialist price controls, crippling new taxes and bigger government. But far from a dream, its side effects would amount to a collective nightmare for seniors, families and taxpayers.

Ever the astute political tactician, Pelosi knows full-well that an immediate, full-scale government takeover of health care and the imposition of socialized medicine through the so-called “Medicare for All” legislation supported by the majority of House Democrats, stands little chance of becoming law once its true effects on Americans are known to patients and voters. So she has chosen a craftier route, opting for socialists’ tools of choice: setting prices in America based on those set by foreign bureaucrats, imposing market-distorting inflationary caps, and crippling new taxes on innovators.

To set prices, Pelosi’s plan would force a “voluntary negotiation process” between the government and drug manufacturers on what it calls a “maximum fair price” — a price determined by foreign bureaucrats. Pelosi would then subject manufacturers that do not participate in the negotiations or do not reach an agreement suitable to the government to a “non-compliance” fee — a tax as high as 95 percent of sales.

Far from “voluntary,” the Pelosi plan is more akin to government extortion. As former Speaker Newt Gingrich observed, the system she envisions is more akin to negotiating with Don Corleone after he’s made “an offer you can’t refuse.”

These socialist price control schemes, forced arbitration and crippling taxes would have a smothering effect on medical innovation, ultimately leading to fewer cutting-edge treatments and cures for patients. As in any industry, when government sets prices, there is little incentive to produce a product — especially those that require a significant investment of time and resources on the front end such as pharmaceuticals. Pelosi’s big-government plan would force innovators to accept prices that would make it nearly impossible to recoup the cost of their investments, with the threat of being taxed out of existence for non-compliance.

Further, as has been shown time and again around the world, price controls, when implemented, lead to shortages and rationing. Unfortunately for patients, in health care that translates into access restrictions and faceless government bureaucrats making critical decisions about care rather than patients and their selected doctors.

Like other far-left politicians and presidential candidates, Pelosi masks the realities of her health care takeover in soft-sounding names and soundbites. This makes it all the more critical that America’s patients know the truth about the profound consequences her price control scheme would have on their treatments and care.

The stakes for our health care system, and ultimately to patients and families, are too high not to act. That’s why the organization I help run, the Coalition Against Socialized Medicine, is working to make sure that the real-world effects of Pelosi’s proposals are known to patients — and policymakers — before it’s too late. To this end, we’ve recently launched a significant educational campaign highlighting its dangers to patients, innovation and the economy.

We’re working to make sure that patients, and particularly seniors, for whom access restrictions and rationing would have disproportionate and immediate effect, are armed with the facts to hold politicians and policymakers accountable.

We hope that as patients and voters around the country see and hear our messages on their televisions, in newspapers, and online in the coming weeks, they will join us in our effort to protect our health care system from the creep of socialism. Because while her drug pricing plan may masquerade as a compromise, given a closer look, the tools Pelosi wants to use to remake America’s drug pricing system look increasingly like the hammer and sickle.

SOURCE 

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IN BRIEF

DOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR MIKE PENCE VISIT: Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows never to declare a ceasefire in northern Syria despite U.S. backlash: "We are not worried about any sanctions" (National Review)

MEANWHILE... "Officials are reviewing plans to evacuate up to 50 U.S. nuclear bombs that have long been stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in the wake of Ankara's military offensive in northern Syria." (Fox News)

CONSCIENTIOUS PROTECTIONS: Federal court strikes down Obama administration "transgender mandate" for doctors (Fox News)

POLITICAL FUTURES: Hispanics become the largest voting-eligible minority group in the country (National Review)

APPEASING THE LAWLESS: California will allow illegal aliens to serve on government boards (Hot Air)

SWEEPING TOLL: "The opioid crisis cost the U.S. economy $631 billion from 2015 through last year — and it may keep getting more expensive, according to a study released Tuesday by the Society of Actuaries." (Associated Press)

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 

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Thursday, October 17, 2019


A Striking Contrast:  Conservative gratitude versus Leftist hate
 
President Trump delivered a rousing pro-America speech at his rally in Minneapolis Thursday night!

He presented the 2020 election as a stark choice, and correctly so in my view, between those who want to preserve religious liberty, free markets, the sanctity of life, our Second Amendment rights, and our national sovereignty against those demanding open borders, abortion-on-demand, socialism, and gun control.

I was particularly struck by how the president talked at length about what it is like to be commander-in-chief. It involves regular trips to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which are rarely covered by the media. On those visits, the president sees firsthand the horrific wounds our soldiers endure.

It involves going to Dover Air Force Base to receive the bodies of fallen heroes. It involves writing personal letters, not form letters, to every family who loses a loved one serving in the military.

It was a side of the president people don’t see very often. When I am at the White House, I see him in a very different mood than what is presented by the media. He is a much more compassionate man than the left would like you to believe.

Sadly, there was violence after the rally ended. MAGA hats were burned. Trump supporters were assaulted. Leftists waved the flag of communist China. Police officers had to create a path for cars to leave because demonstrators were attacking vehicles in the parking garage.

It was a striking contrast. Inside the Target Center, Trump praised our brave men and women in uniform, our soldiers, and police officers. He defended our flag and our country.

Outside, the left-wing radicals, the activist base of the Democrat Party, were attacking cops, burning flags, yelling their hatred for America, and assaulting conservatives.

I’m not suggesting that Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren would be part of that crowd. But there’s no question which candidate that crowd would vote for come November, and it won’t be Donald Trump. Nor is that crowd ever denounced by the leadership of the Democrat Party.

On Fox News Thursday night, a Democrat consultant was asked about the violence at the rally. Of course, he insisted it was wrong, but then proceeded to justify the violence by suggesting it was a natural reaction to Trump!

If, after any speech by a leading Democrat, a mob formed outside and began punching people and attacking cars, every network would be running the footage non-stop. Every Republican would be forced to condemn it on the record.

But no elected Democrat today will be asked to condemn what happened on the streets of Minneapolis Thursday night. And I won’t hold my breath waiting for any progressives to voluntarily distance themselves from the protests.

SOURCE 

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Elections Watchdog Seeks Answers in Michigan Voter Fraud Case

A Michigan municipal election official being charged with six felonies in the discarding of nearly 200 votes is not likely an indication of voting problems nationally, election experts say. But an election integrity watchdog still wants to get to the bottom of the matter.

“Whether it changed the outcome is not really an issue when you are talking about civil rights. What does matter is canceling votes,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “The Justice Department needs to carefully scrutinize what votes were canceled and why she would have improperly discarded those 193 [votes].”

Michigan State Police arrested Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins in late September on charges related to altering or throwing away 193 absentee ballots.

The nonprofit Public Interest Legal Foundation made a public records request to find out what happened to the absentee ballots, from the time the voters applied for them through the time the ballots were discarded and altered to the time the ballots were reinstated and counted.

This type of election fraud is not likely widespread, because it was fairly simple to unravel, Adams said.

“This was caught because the votes cast did not equal the ballot tallies,” Adams said.

Hawkins was charged with falsifying election returns, which carries a maximum five-year sentence and a $1,000 fine. She also was charged with forgery of a public record, which carries a maximum 14-year sentence; misconduct in office, which carries a maximum five-year penalty; and three counts of using a computer to commit a crime, each with a maximum seven-year sentence.

After posting a $15,000 bond, Hawkins is set for another court hearing on Oct. 15.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the charges against Hawkins, a fellow Democrat, at a late September press conference.

In May, at the Michigan Democratic Party’s Legacy Dinner, the party gave Hawkins its Dingell-Levin Award. The award is named for two former longtime Democratic members of Congress.

There are “only two possibilities,” Adams said. “Either this Michigan city had an incompetent election official, or two, she didn’t like those 193 voters for some reason and decided to cancel them out.”

Michigan state officials said all votes were ultimately counted and that no election results were altered.

Election Officials and Fraud

Most jurisdictions have safeguards in place to prevent this type of fraud by election officials, said Susannah Goodman, director of the election security program at Common Cause, a government watchdog group.

“You don’t see [election official fraud] very often,” Goodman told The Daily Signal. “If a person knows how the system works, they know they will be caught. Reconciliation is pretty basic. If someone is a sophisticated fraudster, why would they do the one thing they should know will be checked and cross-checked?”

Since 2013, there have been three criminal convictions of election officials trying to alter vote counts, according to The Heritage Foundation’s voter fraud database.

A Miami-Dade County, Florida, elections department official pleaded guilty to filling out the mail-in ballots of other voters in favor of a Republican mayoral candidate in the November 2016 election. An Canton, Mississippi, elections committee member was convicted in 2013 of stealing a ballot box. A Clackamas County, Oregon, election official pleaded guilty to altering a ballot in 2013.

In 2007, the Justice Department brought a civil penalty against Ike Brown, a former superintendent of Democratic primary elections in Noxubee County, Mississippi, for manipulating ballots for race-based reasons.

“The kind of post-election audit we are pushing for has to do with vote tabulation and providing a statistically significant number of paper ballots for the audit to limit the risk of electing the wrong person,” said Common Cause’s Goodman.

The city of Southfield, a suburb of Detroit, put Hawkins on administrative leave after her Sept. 23 arrest.

“The City does not have all of the facts at this time, and there will be no rush to judgment,” said a public statement released by city spokesman Michael Manion. “The City will also be conducting a thorough internal investigation and review of these charges. After the City has examined the underlying facts of this matter, we will explore all appropriate and legal avenues to protect the voting process and rights of the Southfield citizenry. Mrs. Hawkins will be on administrative leave with pay at this time.”

Southfield Deputy City Clerk Nicole Humphries said, “The city clerk’s office is still functioning.”

“If they submitted a [Freedom of Information Act] request, we will be responding,” she told The Daily Signal regarding the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s records request.

‘Noticeably Silent’

Adams, of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said actions occurred that, had they not been corrected, would have meant votes didn’t count. So, he said, it’s puzzling that groups that typically speak out against voter suppression have not spoken out in this case.

“Voter suppression is a fake term. It’s not in the law. The proper term is vote denial,” Adams said. “The voting rights groups are noticeably silent on this case. They don’t show up talking about an actual case of voting denial.”

The Daily Signal contacted several organizations that have opposed policies they labeled as “voter suppression” about concerns over the Michigan case.

One of the newest such groups is Fair Fight Action, which was started by former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams after her narrow loss in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race.

The group’s website says, “Efforts to discourage and disenfranchise voters—in voter registration, ballot access, or counting of votes—have a catastrophic effect on our democracy and our communities.”

The League of Women Voters says, “We work year-round to combat voter suppression through advocacy, grassroots organizing, legal action, and public education.”

Project Vote warns against “illegal and cynical attempts to suppress the vote and manipulate voters,” adding that “[a]mong the strategies used are voter intimidation and voter challenges.”

Brennan Center for Justice spokesman Derek Rosenfeld said the organization had no comment. But its website says, “Vote suppression has a long and ugly history in the U.S., and over the last two decades, it has resurfaced with a vengeance. Through research, lawsuits, and advocacy, we are fighting vote suppression on every front.”

The silence could be that some of these groups don’t want to acknowledge election fraud, said Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the election law reform initiative at The Heritage Foundation. Or, he said, it could be because Hawkins is a registered Democrat.

“Those 193 votes ultimately counted only because this clerk was caught. Why did the clerk do this? Did she know who they were?” von Spakovsky asked. “Most election officials are honest people who do the right thing, but sometimes election officials do bad things and break the law.”

SOURCE 

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Hillary in form



From Vince Foster and Seth Rich to Jeffrey Epstein, a large number of Clinton associates have died sudden deaths

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Democrats Embrace Cultural Devolution

CNN’s forum for 2020 Democrat presidential candidates to opine on “LGBTQ” issues was yet another in-kind campaign contribution to the DNC. The primacy and promotion of people with various types of gender disorientation in family entertainment is about emotion-based indoctrination. In politics, it’s about appealing to women voters.

So what did the Democrats talk about on CNN? Space won’t permit us to dissect every tendentious twisting of fact or tyrannical policy pronouncement. But here are a few key moments.

Elizabeth Warren literally applauded child abuse. After being introduced along with her mother, billed as “an advocate for transgender youth,” a young girl dressed up as a boy announced, “My name’s Jacob, and I’m a nine-year-old transgender American.” Warren immediately applauded and cheered, “All right, Jacob!” The girl then asked Warren a softball question about her issues in school — a question fed to her by her adult handlers.

A couple of things. First, and again, enabling and encouraging a kid to embrace gender dysphoria — to the point of dressing and “identifying” as the opposite sex, taking hormone-altering drugs that can do permanent damage, or sometimes even having body-altering surgery — is child abuse, plain and simple. If a child identified as a fire truck and wanted to play in the street, running through busy intersections while screaming like a siren, no one would tolerate it. Yet when it comes to innate biology, these “advocates” aid and abet fantasy, including deeply wounding self-harm, in the name of “tolerance.” With incredibly rare exception, all people are born with the “hardware” for one of two genders. That’s the way God made them. “Transgender” is a phony alternate reality that should not be encouraged, especially in kids who haven’t even hit puberty yet, and Warren and every other Democrat should be ashamed for exploiting these kids.

Warren wasn’t done. She also declared that “people who are transgender” — even inmates — are “entitled to medical care,” including sex-reassignment surgery. And of course, “entitled” means American taxpayers would be forced to foot the bill.

Other moments included blatant attacks on Christians who actually believe what the Bible teaches about sex and marriage. Warren bemoaned the “hatefulness” of such Christians. Pete Buttigieg sermonized that Christians who hold to biblical teaching actually make “God smaller.” Says the man who seemingly will only “worship” a god created in his image. Cory Booker complained that people “use religion as a justification for discrimination.” And Beto O'Rourke, who claims to be Catholic, declared that he’d be the one doing the discriminating: “Yes,” he would strip churches of their tax-exempt status for holding to millennia of biblically based Christian doctrine on marriage. We’re just surprised he didn’t say, “Hell yes.”

On a final note, Warren was asked what her response would be to “a supporter [who] says, ‘Senator, I’m old-fashioned, and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman.’” Warren gave a very misandrist response: “Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that. And I’m gonna say, ‘Then just marry one woman. … Assuming you can find one.’”

That insult is quite illustrative of how Democrats look at Americans who hold to traditional values: To them, we’re mouth-breathing Neanderthals who aren’t just wrong, we’re bigoted and hateful — all for holding positions they themselves maintained until the last few years. The hypocritical intolerance is astounding, even if it is par for the course with leftists.

SOURCE 

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IN BRIEF

TALIBAN PEACE TALKS: "U.S. officials and representatives of the Afghan Taliban have begun discussing ways to revive a peace process after talks fell apart last month." (The Wall Street Journal)

GETTING ITS ACT TOGETHER: Mexico halts caravan of 2,000 migrants bound for U.S. (Fox News)

NANNY-STATE COURTS — COMING SOON TO AMERICA? Canadian court strips father of rights, allowing teen to transition against his wishes (The Daily Signal)

"NEXT!" "Democratic House committee chairmen Elijah Cummings, Eliot Engel, and Adam Schiff sent a letter Thursday to Energy Secretary Rick Perry alerting him to a subpoena demanding documents related to their impeachment inquiry into President Trump's dealings in Ukraine — the ninth subpoena issued so far." (National Review)

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Ronan Farrow book claims Hillary Clinton pressured Farrow to drop Harvey Weinstein investigation (The Daily Wire)

"PUBLIC CHARGE" RULE BLOCKED: "Under the rule," The Hill reports, "any immigrant who receives at least one designated public benefit — including Medicaid, food stamps, welfare or public housing vouchers — for more than 12 months within any three-year period will be considered a 'public charge' and will be more likely to be denied a green card by immigration officials." Federal Judge George Daniels "said the Trump administration likely exceeded its authority."

GOWDY PRECLUDED: As a corollary of lobbying rules, "a deal that [Trump's legal team] had reached with former South Carolina Republican Representative Trey Gowdy fell through," The Daily Wire reports.

DUBIOUS TIMING: Hunter Biden stepping down from Chinese firm, vows no foreign work if father wins in 2020 (The Hill)

SYRIA UPDATE: "Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed Sunday that President Trump has ordered a larger withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria than was previously indicated," according to The Hill. Meanwhile, Fox News says, "Fresh airstrikes from Turkey reportedly targeted civilians and a group of foreign reporters in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn."

POWER RESTORED: "PG&E Corp. crews have restored power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses in California that had been subjected to a deliberate blackout," The Sacramento Bee reports. Ironically, many Californians are discovering that solar panels don't work in blackouts.

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here

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